Inspiring Ideas at Idea City

Jun 22, 2016Health & Nutrition

Last week I had the privilege of attending Moses Znaimer’s Idea City Conference here in Toronto. Similar to TED and TEDx talks, Idea City brings together the brightest scientists, artists, entrepreneurs, scholars, and activists over the course of 3 days to inspire minds and challenge thinking. As my second year attending, I knew I would leave this conference with new ideas and perhaps with progressive perspectives.

A diverse set of attendees and speakers I am often curious about talks that have to do with nutrition, food and health.

A Day 1 session discussed Health & Wellness. Dr. Michael Greger’s talk, How Not to Die in particular resonated with me.

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Michael Greger delivering his talk “How Not to Die”

I agreed with Dr. Greger’s perspective on how many deaths in the US could be prevented through nutrition. I am sure many RDs would agree with their clients eating more vegetables. Dr. Greger also referenced smoking in the 1970s and 1980s, comparing processed junk food and the typical “North American Diet” to smoking back in the day.

As much as I appreciated his talk, which promoted good nutrition through eating more plant-based foods, I had some reservations about comparing consuming processed foods to a well-known unhealthy habit: smoking. Smoking, a habit once popular that was used to promote, weight loss, status and a certain “cool” factor – although no longer as popular as it once was – should not be compared to eating processed foods.

Human beings can live without smoking. Human beings cannot live without food. 

Having been trained as a dietitian, along with a certificate in Food Security, it is no surprise that healthier food is often more expensive. People of lower socio-economic statuses tend to consume more processed foods due to availability and affordability. Simply put, stopping the intake of processed foods may be feasible for populations that can financially afford and have the skills to prepare more plant based meals. However, this is not the case for poorer populations who struggle with more barriers that may hinder healthy eating. 

There was also a strong push for vegetarian and veganism. As a dietitian I am aware that there is no one diet that fits all. Although complete vegan and vegetarianism may not be feasible for most families, a Meatless Monday or Flexitarian Diet eating plan (both promote consuming less meat-based meals throughout the week) might suit most Canadians better. 

Besides my reservations towards those biases shared, I had a wonderful time at Idea City! So many inspiring ideas and people I met over the course of 3 days. I am looking forward to the next year’s event in 2017! 

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Clockwise: Standing on the balcony of Koerner Hall, taking a selfie with the lovely Ximena, at the Zoomerplex afterparty.
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With media mogul Moses Znaimer. Thanks for creating this amazing conference!

Meet Michelle

Welcome, I'm Michelle! I'm a TV and digital media registered dietitian and Asian cuisine content creator based out of Hamilton, ON Canada!

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